Sunday, September 28, 2008

Menu Plan Monday

I'm participating in Menu Plan Monday for the first time this week!

While going over the family budget this weekend, I was faced with the proof that my family eats out way too much! I won't say how much we spent on eating out just in the past month, but it is an embarrassing amount. So I'm trying to change that by being better about planning meals and shopping more frugally.

Here is my first attempt at a weekly meal plan:


Breakfast - cereal or oatmeal, toast, and fruit
Lunch - sandwiches, soup, and veggies with dip
Dinner - Chili casserole, veggies


Breakfast - Biscuits, oatmeal or cereal, and fruit
Lunch - sandwiches, soup, and veggies with dip
Dinner - Leftover chili casserole (ballgame night, so leftovers will be easiest)


Breakfast - Pancakes and fruit or leftover biscuits
Lunch - sandwiches, soup, and veggies with dip (I'm sensing a theme here)
Dinner - Homemade cheese pizza

Breakfast - eggs and leftover biscuits or pancakes
Lunch - Leftover pizza (Husband will eat out)
Dinner - Pasta bake, veggies, and garlic bread


Breakfast - Whatever is left in the house
Lunch - Whatever we can forage to eat
Dinner - bean burritos

Okay, I'm only doing a five day menu, because this is my first shot at this and because I have some things I need to use up before they go bad. I'm not planning on shopping this week. I'll see how it goes. My cabinets are stocked full of pasta and pasta sauce, dried beans, canned goods, instant oatmeal, tuna, plenty of canned soup, ingredients to make homemade tomato soup, really just a lot of stuff that I need to use up before I go shopping again. I also have a lot of frozen veggies in the freezer and some frozen fish filets. My husband will not eat fish, but my son and I eat it sometimes for lunch. I also have plenty of flour and yeast, so if I run out of bread I can make some instead of buying it at the store. I'm going to see how far what I already have will take us this week.

The only thing I can really see needing at the store this week is milk. My husband and son are both big milk drinkers and they won't be happy if we run out. My husband drives by Aldi on his way to/from work, so I'll probably have him drop by to get the milk that is $2.59 a gallon.

Not shopping this week will really help our budget. Gas prices are back up again because of the hurricane (was it Ike?). Anyway we had no weather complications, but there has been a bit of a gas shortage in the Atlanta area since the hurricane. On the way to the ball field, for instance, I drive by roughly six gas stations. For the past two weeks most of those stations have been out of gas and when they do get gas, the lines to buy are stretched out into the road and they run out of gas very quickly. My husband had to fill up and found a station with gas earlier this week, but had to wait in line over 20 minutes to get gas!

Well, excuse that tangent, but what I was trying to say is the price of gas is up again and the price of food is still up and seems to be getting higher. My recent shopping trip last Thursday was $81.20. Here's what I got, in case you are interested:

1/4 lb. Provolone cheese $1.97
1/2 lb. roast beef 5.50
1/2 lb. tavern ham 4.54
2 pkgs. of Eat Smart fresh broccoli and carrots 5.00
wheat bread 2.87 (for one loaf of bread! can you believe it?)
1/2 lb. fresh green beans .82
4 pk. cottage cheese 2.99
ketchup 2.79
2% milk 3.59
chili beans .89
chili beans .89
bananas 1.32
kidney beans .89
kidney beans .89
pure vanilla extract 8.49 (gulp!)
chocolate syrup 1.99
4 pk. tomato soup 3.00
Simply Orange orange juice 3.79 (that's expensive!)
French's mustard 1.59
baked beans 1.39
baked beans 1.39
American sliced cheese 4.99
bag of red delicious apples 3.99
ranch dressing 3.63
ground chuck 2.44
ground chuck 2.84
strawberry milk (single serving for me!) 1.67
chocolate milk (single serving for E!) 1.67
Krispy Kreme donut holes cup (for E, no really!) 1.79

I made a huge pot of chili on Friday. I figured up the cost of the huge pot of chili was $10.34. It's a very simple chili, not spicy at all because my guys do not like spicy foods. That chili has been used for 2 dinners so far and I will use the rest to make chili casserole Monday night. I'm just going to put the chili in a casserole dish and mix up some cornbread and add cheddar cheese to it, spread that mixture on top of the chili and bake it until the cornbread is done. I'm making up the recipe, but I'm sure it will taste good.

I think one of my money waster problems is that I am very brand loyal. That's going to be hard for me to give up. Take the pure vanilla extract, for example. I buy McCormick's. The store brand was about a dollar cheaper, but I still bought McCormick's. I thought about buying the store brand. I have actually bought the store brand before and it was fine, but still I bought McCormick's. That's a problem, I think.

Also, I ALWAYS shop at Publix. I could probably get better prices somewhere else. I think I might have heard of a low price superstore called Wal-mart. Yeah, it rings a bell. Still, I shop almost exclusively at Publix.

There are ways to justify shopping at Publix. While I am brand loyal, there are some Publix brand items I have become loyal to. That's cheaper. Plus Walmart is not always on my way, but I pass Publix three times on week on my way to/from the ballfield. Saving gas, right?

I do buy things like dog food, laundry detergent, toilet paper, paper towels and cleaning stuff from Walmart. I guess I could do the food thing there too. I don't think I could buy fresh fruit, fresh vegetables, or fresh meat from Walmart, though. The fruit and veggies at my Walmart never look very appealing and I got some tough hamburger from there once and have never forgotten the experience.

I'll work on it.

So, there's my plan for the week. I'll report back about how it all goes.

HT: Blooming Where We're Planted

Monday, September 22, 2008

Thank God for fall!

Fall is my favorite time of year! I am so glad it's here again!

We've had a busy few weeks with school work and baseball. Plus E is still taking guitar lessons, which keeps him busy with practice about 45 minutes every day.

Math really has me scratching my head lately. That's kind of bad, I know, when 5th grade math is throwing you for a loop, but we're learning something my husband and I were never taught. Casting out 9's to check arithmetic, multiplication, and division.

I looked at this method and studied it in the curriculum and had my husband look it over and explain it to me. Ha ha. Both my husband and I were a little perplexed by the whole thing. We had never heard of this method and were struggling with the reasoning behind it and the usefulness of it. My husband (Mr. Cool, Calm, and Collected) said to just teach the method to my son and get on with life. We could do as much or as little of it as I was wanted.

Wouldn't you know that I introduced the concept to E and he LOVES using casting out 9's as a way to check his work?!? It is easier than doing the work again or (in the case of division) multiplying the divisor and quotient to come up with the dividend. And, after some research, it does seem to be a pretty popular method. Who says you can't teach an old dog new tricks? Did I just call myself an old dog?

Anyway, we conquered that challenge. Today we did some extensive study about fall and the seasons in general. I got some help with that from I have been a member of that site before, but let my subscription run out. You don't have to have a subscription to the site, but paying the fee does gain you access to items you can't use without the membership. I might have to budget in an extra $20 to join again.

I'm doing much better with lesson plans this year. Although I use ABeka curriculum for Math, Language Arts, Spelling, and Penmanship, when dealing with Social Studies and Science, we tend to go with our interests or seasonal studies. The lesson planning has really helped keep me on track so far this year. It takes some extra prep work on my part, but I use some time on Sunday evenings to plan out two weeks at a time.

I also keep a few sheets stapled to the inside of my lesson plan folder with ideas for things I want to do in the future. For instance, in late October I plan to spend some time discussing the upcoming presidential election. We are also going to do a unit study on Ben Franklin (my son's research paper might also focus on Mr. Franklin). I have been looking up websites for research and books that are available at our library. My son has been watching Liberty's Kids, so we're looking forward to delving into more about that time period and Ben Franklin, specifically.

I'm also hoping to read A Christmas Carol this year. We watch many renditions of that movie every year at Christmas and I would really like to read it as a family for once. We'll see how that goes for my husband and son, who are more visually inclined!

So the beginning of another fall! I'm looking forward to all the good things coming up!